In Sirte, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Bunyan Marsus coalition continues to advance in the city, tightening the noose around ISIS militants holed up in its central areas… Bunyan Marsus leaders have said they expect the battle to be completed within the next two weeks, although other analysts predict a more drawn out battle… There is a suspicion that the senior ISIS leadership has already evacuated from Sirte. Informed sources say that Libyan ISIS members have attempted to defect to friendly Islamist militias south of Sirte, some of whom are nominally aligned with the Misratans.

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On 6 July, the Libyan National Army (LNA) suffered major blows, with the death of 11 soldiers in a suicide attack, and downing of its ace Mig-23 pilot Major Idris Hamed Al-Obeidi. Obeidi, an iconic LNA fighter pilot, was killed when his plane crashed during a mission against jihadists in Ganfuda. On 10 July, Tariq Al Saiti, another iconic LNA solider who specialized in de-mining and was a highly respected figure in Benghazi, was killed. These setbacks have dampened the high hopes for a swift and decisive defeat of jihadists in eastern Libya.

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Battles intensified on 6-8 July as jihadists conducted a surprise counterattack against the LNA on the evening of Eid in Ganfuda. The jihadists’ fierce resistance may demonstrate their desperation, but it casts doubts on LNA pronouncements that the jihadists had been neutralized. At the same time, there has been an escalation of conflict between the LNA and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC). A three-week ceasefire was breached when the LNA conducted airstrikes on alleged DMSC targets in and around the Derna port on 9 July.

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On 8 July, a widely publicized leak shed light on active Western military support for Khalifa Haftar and the LNA. The leak has caused disarray in the GNA camp, especially within the ranks of Islamists. This new information is seen as evidence of a Western betrayal of the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement that produced the GNA… Speaking at a House of Lords Committee hearing on 7 July, Britain’s Ambassador to Libya Peter Millett said that he that he had visited Tripoli five times since the arrival of the GNA.

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